Releasing medical records from a healthcare organization’s business office can be accomplished in a more efficient and cost-effective method. Instead of distracting billers and collectors from their main duties of collecting revenue, business offices should consider the following options to improve efficiency and ensure proper tracking of Protected Health Information (PHI). I provide more detailed information in an HFMA blog “PHI Disclosure Management in the Business Office.”
Centralize all Requests for Records
If the business office wishes to continue to process using their staff, the function should be centralized and assigned to a core group of processors to fulfill all requests. This will help minimize administrative burden from the billers and collectors. Centralization also promotes consistent, standardized processes. These dedicated business office staff should be thoroughly trained in proper PHI disclosure management to maximize efficiency, eliminate redundancy and mitigate risk of HIPAA breach for requests that may fall outside of TPO such as itemized bills for outside attorney requests.
Transfer the Work to HIM
HIM staff are well trained in processing requests for information. They have the knowledge and skills to complete requests efficiently and in compliance with HIPAA guidelines. Nevertheless, some organizations fear delegating this function to HIM because of concerns regarding timeliness and payer deadlines. To reduce turnaround time fears, the following four best practices should be implemented:
- Ensure open and ongoing communication between the business office and HIM
- Optimize the use of EHR and PHI disclosure management technologies to route requests and share information
- Assign dedicated Release of Information (ROI) experts to support the business office and process requests
- Conduct regular meetings to discuss new trends in payer requests and proactively improve turnaround time through SFTP delivery
Outsource Business Office PHI Disclosures
A number of national firms, including MRO, provide Release of Information services to process payer requests. MRO’s services for business office disclosure management ensure timely delivery of information to payers, full compliance with HIPAA guidelines, and around-the-clock staffing to avoid backlogs or delays.
Careful and strategic tracking of information released, to whom and why, will make the PHI disclosure process more efficient. If your organization needs to improve this process, you should consider: centralization, delegating work to HIM or outsourcing PHI disclosure management. By implementing these alternative workflow options, your organization will be taking the right steps towards improving billing processes and decreasing denials.